3 Stocks Boosting The Health Care Sector Higher

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model

All three major indices are trading down today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading down 45 points (-0.3%) at 14,466 as of Thursday, March 21, 2013, 12:44 PM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,235 issues advancing vs. 1,661 declining with 139 unchanged.

The Health Care sector currently sits down 0.1% versus the S&P 500, which is down 0.4%. A company within the sector that increased today was GlaxoSmithKline ( GSK), up 0.6%. On the negative front, top decliners within the sector include Pharmacyclics Incorporated ( PCYC), down 3.2%, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals ( REGN), down 2.0%, Novo Nordisk A/S ( NVO), down 1.7%, Sanofi ( SNY), down 1.3% and Alexion Pharmaceuticals ( ALXN), down 1.2%.

TheStreet Ratings group would like to highlight 3 stocks pushing the sector higher today:

3. AstraZeneca ( AZN) is one of the companies pushing the Health Care sector higher today. As of noon trading, AstraZeneca is up $1.49 (3.2%) to $47.67 on heavy volume Thus far, 3.1 million shares of AstraZeneca exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.7 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $46.94-$47.83 after having opened the day at $47.28 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $46.18.

AstraZeneca PLC engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of prescription medicines for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology, and infectious diseases worldwide. AstraZeneca has a market cap of $57.6 billion and is part of the drugs industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.3, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 1.9% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there is 1 analyst that rates AstraZeneca a buy, 3 analysts rate it a sell, and 5 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates AstraZeneca as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, attractive valuation levels, growth in earnings per share, expanding profit margins and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow. Get the full AstraZeneca Ratings Report now.

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2. As of noon trading, Covidien ( COV) is up $0.88 (1.3%) to $66.38 on average volume Thus far, 1.5 million shares of Covidien exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 2.1 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $65.30-$66.58 after having opened the day at $65.36 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $65.50.

Covidien plc develops, manufactures, and sells healthcare products for use in clinical and home settings worldwide. Covidien has a market cap of $30.6 billion and is part of the health services industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 16.5, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 12.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 14 analysts that rate Covidien a buy, 1 analyst rates it a sell, and 2 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Covidien as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, revenue growth, attractive valuation levels, growth in earnings per share and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow. Get the full Covidien Ratings Report now.

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1. As of noon trading, Medtronic ( MDT) is up $0.42 (0.9%) to $45.96 on average volume Thus far, 2.4 million shares of Medtronic exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 4.5 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $45.28-$45.97 after having opened the day at $45.33 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $45.54.

Medtronic, Inc. manufactures and sells device-based medical therapies worldwide. Medtronic has a market cap of $45.7 billion and is part of the health services industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 13.8, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 10.0% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 8 analysts that rate Medtronic a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 10 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Medtronic as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income, revenue growth and attractive valuation levels. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook. Get the full Medtronic Ratings Report now.

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If you are interested in one of these 3 stocks, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the health care sector could consider Health Care Select Sector SPDR ( XLV) while those bearish on the health care sector could consider ProShares Ultra Short Health Care ( RXD).

A reminder about TheStreet Ratings group: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

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